"The Chinese seem to have more spectacles for seeing business opportunities in Uganda here than your Western companies (...) The Chinese see the opportunities and they come, and they are knocking, and they are coming very vigorously."That's Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in a Reuters exclusive interview. Museveni has been in power since 1986 and one of Africa's longest-serving leaders. And he says that Western companies may be losing interest in his country, but China is upping its game there. He says Uganda was working to sign a number of deals with Chinese private sector lenders in sectors such as agro- and fertilizer-processing, minerals processing and textiles."I think it is a combination of ideology and the interest of people who want opportunities. But also the ideology is the government encourages them, I think encourages their private companies while the Western governments are lecturing us. You find somebody lecturing Yoweri Museveni, it is really madness. What are you telling me that I don't know? So, there is that disconnection between us and the Western systems."Chinese state entities and private-sector firms have long been a driving force of investment in Africa, lending countries on the continent hundreds of billions of dollars as part of the Belt and Road Initiative. According to the Uganda Investment Authority, the country ranked third in Africa on foreign direct investment from China in recent years.Talking about the fight against corruption, Museveni acknowledged more effort was needed."We started from the beginning by creating the law, putting in place the law, the institutions, but what I told your friends was that the problem has been the manning of those institutions. We think that sometimes they get also infiltrated and they don't become as effective and that is what we are sorting out.
The new Omicron variant may soon take its toll on the U.S. and global economy. Goldman Sachs on Saturday slashed its outlook for U.S. economic growth next year to 3.8% from 4.2%. Its economist said the variant could slow economic reopening with worker shortages lasting longer if people feel uncomfortable about returning to work and tighter restrictions worsening supply shortages. Goldman’s domestic forecast comes just after the IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva told the Reuters Next conference the global lender is likely to lower its global economic growth forecast, pointing the finger at Omicron. “A new variant that may spread very rapidly can dent confidence. And in that sense, we are likely to see some downgrades of our October projections for global growth." With Omicron spreading to at least 40 countries, many governments have tightened travel rules to try to keep it out.
Wall Street’s wild ride this week spilled over to the cryptocurrency markets Saturday. Bitcoin plunged by 22% to below $42,000 before paring some of that loss. The sell-off was widespread. Ether tumbled more than 10%, and data from trading platform Coinglass showed nearly $1 billion worth of cryptocurrencies had been liquidated over the past 24 hours. A combination of profit-taking and macro-economic concerns triggered the sell-off. The crypto plunge follows a volatile week in which stocks got slammed by fears over the Omicron variant and the Federal Reserve’s stance on inflation. And it comes as executives of major cryptocurrency firms prepare to testify before Congress Wednesday for the first time.At least one country saw the sell-off as a buying opportunity. El Salvador picked up 150 bitcoins at an average price of roughly $49,000. President Nayib Bukele tweeted, “El Salvador just bought the dip!”